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SubjectRe: [PATCH] Chinese Language Maintainer
On 07/15/2007 08:12 PM, H. Peter Anvin wrote:

> Li Yang wrote:

>> I think you worried too much about this problem. :) Let me explain the
>> situation here in China more clearly. Actually, English is mandatory in
>> most schools and universities. Only very few people learn other
>> language as a second language. Therefore software developers who are
>> almost educated should have the basic English skill. However, that
>> doesn't mean that they can read English or communicate with native
>> English speaker very easily. Consider your second language learn in
>> school for analogy
>
> Actually, I disagree. English *is* the second language learned in school
> for most European developers (except, obviously, the ones from the
> British isles), and we don't have that problem.

There is somewhat of a difference though: English and both our native
languages are very much related. English, Dutch (my native language) and
Swedish (yours) are all Germanic languages -- English and Dutch both West
Germanic and Swedish only slightly farther removed as North Germanic. Word
for word translations not _too_ infrequently actually make okay or at least
understandable Dutch...

Other than Germanic, the Slavic (Polish, Czech, Russian, ...) and Latin
(Italian, Spanish, French, ...) language families are two other direct
Indo-European descendants that are fairly well represented in the kernel
community but I believe it's a largely unsurprising observation that members
of both these families have a somewhat harder time adopting English. And
Chinese is not even Indo-European...

However -- in Europe I notice culture might be even more important than
school _or_ language family is and as such I believe the above argument
isn't all that important anyway. English is the second language we learn in
school here in the Netherlands but it's much more popular than say German, a
language even closer to Dutch, due to us having heard English basically from
the time we're old enough to hear music and watch TV. Most _Dutch_ bands
sing in English and the ones that don't are for a part targetting the
elderly and/or mentally handicapped...

German is close enough to Dutch (and English itself) to rule out most
differences related to native language, but in Germany a significantly
smaller percentage of people speaks English well enough to be comfortable
with it than in the Netherlands simply due to them producing more of their
own culture. It's a larger language zone to market to and they dub the
remaining English-language content on TV. Over here in the Netherlands we
sub-title.

France is another good example. While a bit farther removed from English
family-wise, English has had lots of influences from French as well and in
any case, learning English shouldn't be harder for a Frenchman than learning
French is for a Dutchman (we are, or were when I was there, taught French in
school as well) which is to say not very hard. Yet, mastery of English is
extremely poor in France. Not as a coincedence, most _all_ of the French
culture is in the French language including dubbed originally English songs
for example.

Both the German and, slower, French examples get less true with every new
generation, but both still hold...

Popular culture in the sense of music, tv and these days very much games is
something you start to experience at a very young age, years younger than
the Chinese will be taught English in school and age is extremely important
in mastering a language -- the human brain is by far best at it at the time
you start mastering your native language (in fact, this is what defines
"native") and every single year after that makes it harder.

That is -- let's just solve our Chinese translation problem by overthrowing
the Chinese government and forcing the sub-titled Harry Potter film-series
down the throat of the population... |-/

Seriously, I only wanted to say that both language family and (import of)
culture are very important and as such, concentrating on schooling alone
might not be all that sensible. I did not want to say that I feel that all
these translations make a great deal of sense. Some of us have an easier
time learning English than others do, the Chinese probably don't have an
easy time at all, but a single common language is still the thing to aim
for. The subset and semblance of English spoken on this list seems like
something that should serve well as that common language, especially given
the _help_ English language education gives in it. Also, I hear China is in
fact fairly rapidly opening up to Western (American) popular culture which
might be an argument if you have a generation or two to spare...

Apologies for ranting...

Cheers,
Rene.

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